Breaking Old Habits – Part Two of a Four Part Series

If you could look into the fundraising crystal ball for 2019, what would you discover? I asked several experts in the nonprofit fundraising field and collected a goldmine of wisdom to share with you. Response was so overwhelming that I organized the content into four parts: The Essentials, Breaking Old Habits, Look on the Inside, and Making It Personal.

Albert Einstein is credited with this famous line: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (According to research Einstein didn’t really say this, but you get the point.) Getting outside perspectives may be our best bet for breaking old fundraising habits in 2019. Here’s what the fundraising pros are saying:

  • Listen to the experts. Simone Joyaux, of Joyaux Associates, has 40 years in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector with over 30 years as a fundraising consultant. Joyaux sees a passion for the cause and genuine caring among the staff members and volunteers. But she also still sees the same problems now that she saw years ago. She recommends that leaders hire highly skilled fundraisers, then listen to and follow their advice. “I still see individuals and their organizations looking for the silver bullet, the quick and easy change,” she says. “Social media isn’t the answer to all your worries. Millennials aren’t going to save your organizations. 2019 isn’t going to bring you the new great things, just like 2018 didn’t and neither did 2008 or 1998 or or or…”
  • Hire a coach. Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE fundraising consultant and development coach, believes in the power of coaching. She says, “More and more development professionals and executive directors are taking advantage of expert coaching to help them in their jobs and lives. In the past, coaches were limited to athletes, but now coaching is available for all aspects of life including for fortune 500 executives, small business owners, personal development, weight loss and fitness, and yes, fundraising. Coaching has recently become more and more acceptable and the idea of having a coach seems to be taking off. If you want to raise more money this year, ask with confidence, and be sure you’re on the right track, you may be headed for fundraising coaching in 2019.” 
  • Work with a consultant who specializes. Andrea Kihlstedt, of Capital Campaign Masters, believes that a shift is taking place across many sectors that will make campaign expertise more affordable and accessible for small and large organizations. Kihlstedt says, “I think that one very important trend for 2019 is the way people access outside experts. Fundraising consultants — particularly in capital campaigns — will continue to be an important part of the process, but full-service consultants will become an outmoded model. Because of access to excellent, well-organized and accessible information online about capital campaigns, organizations will seek out consulting help for training, coaching and more limited feasibility studies. Sites like the make information accessible in a way similar to that of LegalZoom or other sites that offer professional expertise.”  
  • Learn from your donors. Steven Shattuck, of Bloomerang, believes the most important fundraising trend or strategy for 2019 is donor surveys. Shattuck says, “There is a mountain of research that shows donors actually like it when you solicit feedback from them. You also get the added benefit of learning something from the donor that you can put into use in future communications efforts. For example, asking why first-time donors gave, or what their connection to the cause is. Or asking repeat donors if they think you're thanking them properly. Or asking lapsed donors if you did something wrong. I think the sector suffers from a lack of curiosity about the people who fund their missions. The information gleaned can be so powerful!”

Matthew Kelly, Founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute, says, “If you want your future to be different from your past, there is only one way: change your habits. Our lives change when our habits change.” Bottom line, if you find yourself getting stuck or not quite sure where to start or not making the progress you want, maybe it’s time for you to step out of old thinking. As Simone Joyaux says, “It’s past time to get it together, people!”

Next up, Part Three: Look on the Inside

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I discovered something special in writing this series of articles. There is a wonderful kindred spirit alive and well within the fundraising and marketing community. We are blessed to be a part of a world where even competitors can collaborate and do good for the sake of doing good. My heartfelt thanks to Tom AhernClaire AxelradLuAnne BellAnne BoyleLauren BrownsteinVanessa ChaseAmy EisensteinEva JannottaSimone JoyauxTim KachuriakAndrea KihlstedtLaura PasternakBrian SooySteven Shattuck and Greg Warner.